I wrote to Lionel tech support about whether or not it was still possible to update the older Legacy boards with DCC compatibility. I am aware that this was done several years ago for a gentleman (whose name is escaping me) who performed scale wheel and coupler conversions of Y-3's. Katie replied that if I removed 2 of the circuit boards and sent them in, they would do it for $50 plus shipping. I have 4 U33c's, a Challenger and a Y-3 for which I would like to do this. I have pulled out the 2 boards on one U33c and am awaiting a response on to whom to send these and how to make payment.
If it works, I'll do the same to the rest.
If not, I have at least one of them, the U33c from which I have pulled the boards, that I will strip of the Lionel electronics and install my own decoder. I'd prefer not to do this because plugging back in a couple of boards and spending only $50 is much more attractive than the other route. Not to mention that getting smoke unit functionality is tricky with DCC.
I'll keep everyone posted on how this goes.